With the purchase of Magellan Architects earlier this year, Sherri Miller has stepped up to create one of Washington State’s largest woman-owned design firms.
“A lot of clients, especially corporations, are looking for the diversity and inclusion factor,” she says. “It doesn’t impact how I pursue work, but it’s something many clients are excited to see – there just are not many single, sole-proprietor, women-owned firms out there.”
Eighty-six percent of Redmond-based Magellan Architects’ 13 employees are women, so when the question comes up, the answer is affirmative. It’s a factor and an influence that makes a difference in the client/architect relationship. “I do think there’s a real sense of desire to connect with clients and everyone you work with,” she says. “That’s a characteristic that a lot of women have.”
This is an architect who works hard to develop bonds with clients and employees alike. “I like those connections and being tied to the people I work with,” she says. “I develop bonds – they know I have their backs and will have the opportunity to work with them wherever they go.
That goes for everyone inside the firm, too. “I know everybody in my office – their history and personalities,” she says. “I enjoy being around my employees and my clients do too.”
Realizing that every client and every project is different, she and her team hold no preconceived ideas about what a design needs to be. “We customize our design process for how and what we do for every project,” she says. “Every client is very specific about program and budget and we focus on their needs.”
The firm practices in a wide range of work – retail, office space and industrial work, and offers specialized expertise in restaurants, industrial, multi-family residential and dental offices. “That gives us a lot of experiences and room for growth for employees,” she says. “And if we fall short in one area one year, we’ll exceed in another that same year.”
One of their design goals is to achieve efficiency and create spaces that the end-user not only wants to be in, but is excited to be in. “They’re durable and easy to maintain – and they will last,” she says. “We are not a fad designers – we’re looking for longevity.”
Scale and proportion, too, are important drivers in the firm’s work. “If the space doesn’t feel like a client should be in there, they’ll never be comfortable, so scale and proportion are vital to design,” she says. “People come to us because we put strong and realistic designs together.”
Because they’re located in the Pacific Northwest, they gravitate toward materials that hold up in the weather there. “We us materials with high quality that are long-lasting, durable, easy to maintain and offer flexibility,” she says. “In design and materials and spaces, it’s key for them to be successful in the long term.”
Miller grew up in Connecticut and went to school in New York at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She holds two bachelor degrees: One in building sciences and one in architecture, with a minor in business. She moved to Seattle in 2001, worked at a local firm and became partner there for 18 years. She built a small account up into one of the largest the firm had.
She’s been at Magellan two years now, and became owner in April of this year, buying it from owner Pedro Castro, who’d launched it in 2000 by Pedro Castro. He and partner Patrick Anderson still own Magellan Architecture in Orange County, Calif.
For the moment, the two firms share a website, but that will change soon enough, as this woman-owned firm continues to step up and out on its own.
This post was created in partnership with Magellan Architects.
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